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Arizona Murder Suspect Uses ‘Sovereign’ Language in Court

By Bill Morlin on February 15, 2012 - 5:50 pm, Posted in Sovereign Citizens

A man accused of twin murders in a Phoenix suburb and facing a possible death sentence used language in his initial court appearance mimicking false legal theories advanced by antigovernment “sovereign citizens.”

Michael Lee Crane, 31, is charged in Maricopa County with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of armed robbery, burglary and arson.  He is accused of killing Lawrence and Glenna Shapiro in their Paradise Valley, Ariz., home on Jan. 31, then setting fire to the couple’s home in an attempt to conceal the crime.

Crane, who previously served time in prison in Arizona, also has been identified by authorities as a suspect in the gunshot murder of Phoenix cigar salesman Bruce Gaudet. He was found shot to death in his home, which was burned down just a few days before the Shapiros were killed.

At his initial appearance in Maricopa County Superior Court, Crane attempted to use what sounded like language commonly employed by sovereign citizens.

When the judge asked the defendant his name, he responded, “It’s capital M, lower-case i.”  He also said he didn’t want a court-appointed attorney.

Sovereign citizens often want to act as their own attorneys and frequently punctuate their names in unusual ways, occasionally using all capital letters or hyphens and colons in the mistaken notion that the practice somehow sets them free from government regulation and control.

Standing before the court without handcuffs, Crane didn’t particularly sound like he had all his sovereign citizen lines memorized, if that was his intent.

When the judge asked Crane if he had any questions, he responded: “I have a statement I would like to make.”

“I would advise you against that, sir,” the judge said. “You have the right to remain silent.”

But the judge wasn’t about to stop Crane.

“I would like to reserve my right to Uniform Commercial Code 1-207 and Uniform Commercial Code 1-103,” he said. Sovereigns frequently cite the commercial code in the belief that there’s a contract of some sort between the government and its citizens.

“The Uniform Commercial Code does not apply to criminal proceedings, sir,” the judge told Crane.

“It is a commercial affair, that correct?” he responded.

“This is a criminal proceeding, sir,” the judge said again, before Crane was heard muttering, “whatever.”

The case against Crane is based, at least part, on statements provided to police by one of five co-defendants arrested on related, non-murder charges, the Arizona Republic reported.

  • MrsCaptJack

    One reason our legal system is so clogged is because if there is even one shred of a legal argument in anything this idiot says, it has to be heard. It’s a murder case so sadly, even with all the evidence saying he did (even if he admits he did it) he can later retract his confession on a number of grounds.

    And whoever said Arizona was like Disneyland to these guys seems to be quite correct. Seems like every other story I read like this is in Arizona and many are in Maricopa county.

  • Leslie
    There was a front page article today in the L.A. Times about the sovereign citizen movement and the threat they pose to law enforcement. The work that SPLC is doing on this front is also mentioned.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Well, his defense isn’t going to get far…except maybe with his like-minded cellmates.

  • Betsy

    I know someone who engages in this kind of thinking, and he’s capable of this kind of crime, and people don’t take him seriously, and he’s VERY disturbed. Someone who behaves this way is definitely psychotic and needs both psychiatric intervention as well as an environment that protects society.

  • Jane Schiff

    I’ve a question re: the killing of Lawrence and Glenna Shapiro. Does anything point to the possibility that their murders were antisemitic hate crimes? Or – did Michael Lee Crane simply expand his reach unrelated to

  • ruben

    yes there are nut cases on both right and left… but the right wing nut cases are the ones usually armed to the teeth and who will use the deadly force to get there way….so there is really zero comparison….it seems that arizona has become kinda like a disneyland for all the right wing nuts….it is infested with them.

  • Greg deGiere

    He evidently has fallen into magical thinking, believing that saying the right words in the right order will produce certain results (in this case, his freedom) when there’s no evidence to support that belief. He evidently had a real gun and used it to kill real people, but part of his belief system — whether it warped by “sovereign” ideology, drug use, or whatever — appears to be delusional.

  • Wolf Wickham

    There are nut cases on both the right and the left.

  • Karla

    His response is “whatever”?

    No doubt exhibiting that degree of legally sophisticated jargon will have him headed for a seat on the Supreme Court someday.

  • Ryan

    If these legal loopholes that SCs play on really existed, I’m sure they’d have been rectified by now.

  • Joshua

    These morons entered the Twilight Zone a LONG time ago.

  • Aron

    Nothing quite like muttering ‘Whatever’ to the judge who hold the power of your life or death. This could be a fun one, folks!

  • DrMJG

    Well, the process has the strong potential of simply removing this man for a LONG time from the society he so hates. Sounds like a win-win situation! (Sarcasm fully intended.)

  • Shadow Wolf

    He certainly wasn’t too bright. The problem with him trying to “memorize” the “sovereign’s” play script, is a direct indication that he fried his brain(possibly on meth). The results of their wanton drug addiction led them on a 4 day bloody crime spree. The F.B.I. were also involved in the search and apprehension of that un-American killer, precisely because of his “sovereign” ideals. Traitorous “sovereigns” are not to be taken lightly. They must be dealt with accordingly.

  • Reynardine

    I congratulate him on the subacuity of his defense, and hope he exsartaginates further on this line of reasoning.